Don’t miss more exclusive, meaningful content on Instagram

Happy hump day! Just a wee reminder that if you’re not following me on Instagram — @stevecultonflyfishing — you may be missing out on some good stuff. What goes on Instagram doesn’t usually make it to currentseams. Like this website, I try to keep it informative, entertaining, or useful (and on a good day, all three). So, if you’re not following me on Instagram, hop to it. I just posted this nifty little black stonefly soft hackled nymph….

Steve’s BHSH Little Black Stone. You can find the recipe on Instagram. 🙂

Today’s job: getting the trout vest in Farmington River shape

I have shamefully neglected my trout vest and its accoutrements and baubles and other implements of destruction. So that’s today’s job: get it ready to go for some late winter/early spring fishing. Find a place for everything, and put everything in its place. Make sure I’m not missing anything. And restock the pathetic container that is my subsurface fly box — especially the nymph side, which is embarrassingly barren. Enough self-flagellation. To the tasks at hand!

Stuff I Use: Magnet-ique MagMini Single magnetic fly patch

I have a traditionalist streak a mile wide. So for years, I used one of those old-school wool fly patches. I shudder to think of all the dozens of flies I lost with that system.

Then, fly fishing pack makers introduced the rippled foam fly patch. They conveniently placed this patch inside the front compartment of their packs. Except, if you’re like me and tend to load up your pack, that system is not very convenient. I shudder to think of all the smaller items I’ve dropped into a river trying to get to a fly.

So, can I get an Alleluiah! for the Magnet-ique MagMini Single magnetic fly patch?

This product is absolutely brilliant. I attaches to your vest, pack, jacket — whatever — by means of two powerful magnets and a steel backing plate. (Note: the maker suggests that the magnets are so powerful, they are not advisable for use by anglers with pacemakers.) When you’re done with a fly, you place it onto the patch and it stays stuck. No more flies going AWOL. No more wondering where that midge nymph went. No more struggling to get to your stash.

Magnet-ique is headquartered in England. You can order directly from them, and possibly from your local shop. I actually saved some money by ordering a double (two of the orange units) and an extra backing plate, which gave me two usable separate patches.

The Magnet-ique MagMini Double on my steelhead pack. They also make a smaller, single size. Suffice to say I need the room of the double, especially for steelheading where I may be going through double-digit fly numbers in a day.

From the article archives: Everything You Need to Know About Fly Fishing in Small Streams

Everything You Need to Know About Fly Fishing in Small Streams first appeared in Field & Stream Online in August 2021. It covers basics like rods, flies, finding water, tactics, and C&R best practices.

And that’s a wrap for Wild Trout/Small Stream Week! I hope you’ve enjoyed it. And as always, thanks for reading.

This is my default setting for exploring new small stream water. Droppers are always the fastest way to find out what the fish want.

The single best thing you can do for small streams and wild trout is:

Zip it. Hush. Shaddup. Small streams and wild trout are a finite resource — and more pressure is usually a very bad thing. So for goodness’ sake, never post stream names and locations on social media. Never take photos that clearly identify your location. (Picture this scenario: you make a video and post it on YouTube. The brook is clearly identifiable. Someone sees it and comments on how beautiful the place is. Someone else comments, “I know where that is!” Someone 1 reaches out to Someone 2, and the location is revealed. Someone 2 likes to share locations with his friends, and the cascade begins. Don’t laugh — I’ve seen it happen.)

And if someone asks, you can always use my line: “I won’t even tell my mother where I fish.”

From the article archives: Stalking Wild Trout on Connecticut’s Small Streams

We continue “Wild Trout/Small Stream Week” on currentseams with a deep dive into the archives. Stalking Wild Trout on Connecticut’s Small Streams was one of the first articles I wrote for myself. That is, not for a specific publisher or editor, but for my own personal use. Although it’s nearly 20 years old, and some of the information is out of date, the piece remains worthy. And I’m guessing that many of you newer subscribers have yet to see it. In case you missed the link above, you can find the article here.

To give you an update: I never did catch Gus. But I did catch and release a few of his relations. Sadly, the pool Gus lived in disappeared not long after I wrote the article. Small streams are highly susceptible to change during high water events.

Take the Wild Trout One Photo Challenge

Anglers wielding cameras have killed more small stream wild trout — intentionally or not — in the last 10 years than in the previous 100. You can blame it on the convenience and portability of digital devices. You can blame it on social media. You can blame it on anglers. Or narcissism. Or all of the above.

Whatever the root cause, I still see far too many images on social media of mishandled wild trout. Fish being held in dry hands. Fish thrashing around in landing nets, airborne, nowhere near the water. Fish photographed laying on grass, twigs, leaves, rocks, and other substrate no wild trout that’s going to be released should ever touch.

Let’s assume for a moment that I’m not talking about you. You’ve visited You know the drill for ensuring more favorable catch and release outcomes. I applaud you. And now, I’d like to ask you a small favor.

Stop taking so many pictures of wild trout.

We all agree: wild trout are beautiful. The delicate parr marks, breathtaking halos, and butter-yellow hues of wild browns. The intricate, Faberge Egg-like designs and vivid colors on wild char. They’re all a wonder, and a marvel to look at. But do we need to see a photo of 2…4….6…and more… wild fish from your most recent small stream outing? The answer, I believe, is no.

So next time you’re on your favorite brook, take the Wild Trout One Photo Challenge: You photograph one fish, and one fish only. That’s it. All the others go quickly back into the stream, and you get bonus points if those non-photo subjects never leave the water. Think of how many wild fish you’re not subjecting to additional stress. It’s a win for you. It’s a win for the next angler. And most of all, it’s a win for the fish. Remember, the stocking truck isn’t coming back to replace what wild fish we kill, accidental or not.

I truly thank you for your consideration.

I don’t know how many wild brookies I landed on this day, but I do know that this was the only one I photographed. 1-2-3-lift-shoot, then back into the water. Less isn’t always more, but it usually is when it comes to small streams and wild trout.

The Responsibilities of Chasing Wild Trout

If you love and value wild fish — especially native fish — you have a responsibility to preserve and protect the resource. Yes, fishing is a blood sport. Yes, no matter how careful we are, some of what we catch may perish. But there are ways to dramatically minimize loss. And there are certainly ways to ensure the next angler has the opportunity to enjoy the stream as much as you.

So, I’m declaring this “Wild Trout/Small Stream Week” on As you know, small stream fishing is an experience that is sacred to me. My goal this week is to educate and inform as much as possible. And this wonderful essay by a Pennsylvania angler named “Fly Tier Mike” is a good place to start. In The Responsibilites of Chasing Wild Trout, Mike outlines four best practices for those who fish for wild trout on small streams: Proper wading techniques (staying off of redds); proper fish handling; minimizing damage while taking photos/videos; and the pitfalls of social media that can lead to over-pressuring a stream.

Anyone who fishes for wild trout should read it, if only as a refresher. Thanks for your consideration.

I was gratified and encouraged to see someone else taking a stand for small streams and wild trout. Way to go, Mike!

Thank you, TU225, and a Farmington River Colebook and Goodwin Dam info sheet

Many thanks to my old friends at the Narragansett TU Chapter for hosting me last night. It’s so wonderful to see everyone again, and I thank TU225 for their continued support. The topic was fishing the Farmington River’s West Branch (the official title is: The West Branch — Southern New England’s Blue Ribbon Trout Stream). It’s an overview of the river that covers everything from popular pools to hatches to gear to when and how. If you’re looking to fill a presentation slot for your club this spring, I still have open dates. Here’s a link to my current presentation menu.

Speaking of the Farmington River, here’s an info sheet — one page, one side — that gives you some good, basic information on the Goodwin (AKA Hogback Dam) and Colebrook Dams. It doesn’t explain the dispute between the MDC and the ACE — or why the MDC is holding the river hostage — but at least you can understand why the water releases have been the way they have been. (What a shock! It’s all about money.) Many thanks to Farmington River Watershed Association for sharing!

Goodwin and Colebrook Dam InfoSheet

An (incomplete) update on Farmington River flows

In case you don’t know, here’s a micro-brief recap: since last summer, the MDC has, for whatever reason, been releasing only the minimum amount of cfs required by law from the Hogback dam. This has resulted in, at times, unnecessary ultra-low flows, transforming the Farmington River from a lush aquatic playground into a pathetic rock garden, and certainly damaging fish and wildlife populations. To my knowledge, no one knows what the MDC’s end game is.

Right now, a group of state senators is crafting legislation that seeks greater transparency from the MDC, albeit in the form of such things as an ethics code and approval on water rates. This doesn’t really help anglers; however, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut are also involved. I plan to reach out to those groups and to the biartisan state senator group to voice my concerns. I’ll let you know what, if anything, I find out.

I do know there is going to be a specific forum in the future for concerned parties to express their concerns about the unconscionable way the MDC is treating the river. When I get data’s on that public comment event, you can be sure I’ll post more about it here.

Man, I really need to get out and fish.

The river should look like this. You know, where you can’t see the bottom half of those boulders…